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Meet little Armenia. Very little.

Gregory B. Khachadoorian and Ann Mary Shahzade, Burlington MA

Gregory B. Khachadoorian and Ann Mary Shahzade sit on Sulujian’s Farm, with Kimball’s Ice Cream in the background, c. 1930. The Woburn Brass Band often held concerts at that stand. The open area behind the ice cream stand later became the Almy’s plaza and is now the Shaw’s plaza. The row of concrete pillars on the right, faint but visible, defines the edge of Winn Street as it heads off into the distance.

Terry Ave. at Cambridge Street, Burlington MA

 


 

Joman Auction barn and Sulujian Farm, c. 1950, Burlington MA

Here’s that same spot, but facing the other way. It’s the Joman Auction barn and Sulujian Farm, c. 1950, now the intersection of Terry Ave. and Cambridge Street.

The former Butters' Farm and Sulujian's Farm, Burlington MA

 

And now, the rest of the story.

Greg’s father, a shoemaker, came to the US in 1921 as a refugee from Armenian genocide. The Ottoman Empire was trying to extinguish Armenians by any means, including death marches into the desert, where families were forced to walk until they collapsed and were left on the ground to die.

1915 Armenial prisoner death march, 1915
Armenian prisoner march in 1915.

Greg and family lived in Arlington. In 1942, when he was working in an automotive shop at age 14, trying to mount a “split rim” truck wheel, the wheel blew apart and left him legally blind. This video shows the danger. A dummy is used during the actual explosions:

 

That didn’t hold him back in life. He studied in braille to receive a law degree, then became an attorney and a state lawmaker. Here’s an excerpt from the Braille Monitor in 1958:

“The blind son of a South Boston shoemaker pulled the upset of the quarter century in Arlington last night. Gregory B. Khachadoorian, 34, in his second try for public office, defeated the man who for 26 years has been known in Arlington and the State house as “Mr. Republican.” Despite his handicap, Greg went through Arlington High School, graduating as an honor student. He was on the Dean’s List for four years at Boston University School of Business and received his degree from Boston University Law School, graduating in 1956 at the top of his class. He said last night, ‘I talked to some 8,000 persons during the campaign. I think I rang every doorbell in town.’ Those who were in Boston last July will remember Greg was in charge of social activities and the guided tour. A few days before the election, a testimonial banquet  was given in Greg’s honor on Arlington. Despite the bad weather, over 225 attended. United States Senator Leverett Saltonstall was the guest speaker.”

Here are some of his proposals as state rep:

 

And here he is in 1967:

Gregory B. Khachadoorian

Special thanks to Thomas Khachadoorian

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